On-Line Products are In-Line with Themes


The products that I have on the site are a little, or maybe very personal. The products and the people who provide them have stories. Stories with important themes, that I happen to like.

Let me explain.

I want the products to resonate with the consumers, as they do with me, by focusing on themes.

Here come some adjectives to give you a better idea of the themes I promote. Sustainable, non-gmo, repurposed, local, organic, environmentally friendly, long-lasting and unique.

Let’s look at some examples.

Miski Organics https://miskiorganics.com/

2 sister – Lina & Mariella from Peru wanted to bring to Canadians SUPER FOODS.

Miski Organics® is a proudly family-owned Canadian company with Peruvian roots. Their company was born from the desire to make a difference in peoples’ lives by providing them with healthier food alternatives. Their core values include environmental sustainability, organic, and fair-trade practices.

Miski Organics® is an entrepreneurial, CDN job creation and health story all-in-one. Plus, their products are a great way to counteract afflictions like celiac disease (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/celiac-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20352220).

The Lake Hippie https://thelakehippie.ca/pages/about-us

Breanna is the founder of The Lake Hippie. She grew up in the Kawartha’s & has a profound love of all bodies water, especially lakes. 

Inspired to do better for the planet & our precious waterways, she sought out more sustainable textiles for her & her family that weren’t filled with harmful materials and micro-plastics.

Breanna ticks the local (Kawartha region) & sustainability boxes. Yes, the products are from Turkey, but they are well made and will last. We buy a product without realizing what they have done or will do to the environment. I like the sustainability and environmental themes.

The Bottom Line….er Sentence.

The themes are meant to make you think and look at your own actions and how they affect our World.  The themes behind the business stories may inspire you to start your own company or pause and read a content label before your next purchase. Will this change the World? Probably not, but it might slow down your decisions long enough that you consider all options.

Small Businesses are a BIG Deal


This BLOG entry will discuss my own experience of starting a business, plus the entrepreneurial mindset and the importance of the small business to local and national economics.

First, I would like to mention an article I read recently in the Toronto Star. The article looks at the 10 Principles of Business Success. It was written by a gentleman who is a preeminent Canadian Entrepreneur.

A better way to describe him is as an immigrant who came to Canada and built a company through the principles he describes in the article.

Frank Stronach is Austrian born and founder of Magna International.

The reason I draw attention to the article is that I wish I was given this list when I started a business. It gives examples of goals / mindset that a businesses person needs at all stages of their journey.

When faced with problems I had self-doubt, and I would use a mantra to reflect upon principles to guide me through and push ahead. My mantra and principles were centered around the notion “don’t screw-up”. The principles in the article are more polished and Mr. Stronach articulates them in a practical way.

How does that relate to my experiences or the experiences of the vendors on www.FriendLilySHOP.com?

When my partner and I started a licensed apparel company in 1986, we already had many of those mindsets. Call it blind ambition. Our thinking was who dosen’t need BUGS BUNNY SHORTS?

No, we were not the brightest, but we worked hard, and when you lay each principle out in aggregate, we possessed each one and any deficits were helped with being young and filled with energy. Partnerships do help you if the partners are not identical in every regard. As the adage says, “if you and your partner think the exact same way, one of you is not needed”.

Thank goodness we both had enough ideas and opinions to avoid a one-track plan.

An entrepreneur whether alone or in a multi-partner organization needs to have ideals that stay with them. Those are the foundation of how they will act, react, and plan in every situation. Within a company those ideas and lessons must be shared so there is continuity.

In blackjack they call it a strategy. Rules that you never alter because your odds of winning will be reduced.

When I speak to or interview a vendor I hear in their voice the passion, but also the realization that being an entrepreneur is hard. Each entrepreneur is unique, and they have built their results on finding their own principles.

In business lingo having a moat around your business means it will be hard for someone to enter your market. I still feel that hard work, even though you can’t patent or license it, is still the best defense. In a phrase “do what no one else wants to do”, and that alone will create separation from you and your competitors.

Mariella of Miski Organics in this video clip relates very well the experience of running your own business “hard work and perseverance, there are good days and bad days”. Mariella and her staff put the hard work in, and that gives them opportunities.

Developing www.FriendLilySHOP.com is a solo venture. When I was in my early 20’s starting a business, I did encounter comments about my age. Now at almost 60 I have heard a few suggestions that at my age, do I need the stress and work?

My father told me when I asked him about starting a company while still in school, he mentioned “if you have a passion and a purpose, age should be your last concern”.

That brings me to my thinking about searching-out for small businesses to be vendors on www.FriendLilySHOP.com.

Here are some business stats that put the importance of small businesses into perspective. Size matters.


Key Points

Most private employers in Canada are small businesses. This is because most Canadian businesses are small businesses.

A total of 99.8% of all Canadian businesses are small- to medium sized firms with less than 500 employees. (Small businesses are firms with less than 100 paid employees and medium-sized businesses are categorized as firms with 100 to 499 paid employees.) 

  • 9/10 Canadians in the private sector work for a small- to medium-sized business. 
  • Small businesses employ 69.7% of the total private labor force or approximately 8.3 million people.
  • From 2003 to 2017, 85.3% of all new jobs (1.2 million jobs) were created by small- to medium-sized businesses.
  • Small- to medium-sized businesses contribute to approximately 38.4% of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP). 

My supply partners are small businesses and as Michelle Mire demonstrates in her article small businesses are so important for our economy.

My father owned pharmacies in Hamilton from the early 60’s to the early 90’s. He always put a lot of emphasis on supporting small local businesses and charities in his community.

In 1980 I was graduating from grade 12 and as a right of passage I went out with a friend to shop for my grade 12 graduation suit. I purchased a nice suit with matching shoes, socks, shirt and tie. I was so proud to model the ensemble for my parents in our Westdale neighbourhood home in Hamilton.

All went very well until my father asked, “which store I bought it from?” Marvin Caplan’s, Bill Newman’s, or South Side Clothiers, he questioned. All great men’s wear retailers in Hamilton.

The answer was I had gone to Oakville Place and purchased from a store there. My father was upset and explained the reason to support local. He was right and my only saving grace was that the maker of the suit was Coppley of Hamilton. Honestly, I was not aware when I purchased said suit, but a lesson was learned.

A strong belief that my father passed along to me was that local businesses and charities are in a symbiotic relationship. If one does well so does the other.

In a phrase that I use “UNITY SHAPES COMMUNITY” carries that message.

As FriendLilySHOP develops I will add charities in other locations, and along that path I will add small businesses in those areas as well. My existing Kawartha based suppliers will still be on the site, but I want to have local content when possible and a diversified range of products and services.

In conclusion I feel entrepreneurs have internal principles naturally, but helpful suggestions from experienced business leaders never hurts. I want to give my vendors continuous opportunities to create sustained businesses.

My next BLOG will cover the details and approach to targeting sales, on-line, bricks & mortar, and custom promotions.

How do I get the attention of consumers?

To find that answer I will need to use Mr. Stronach’s 10 Principles of Business Success.

The concept of FriendLilySHOP


The concept of FriendLilySHOP is simply to make it easy for charities to receive money from donors. 

The stakeholders of the site are the charities, vendors, advertisers, and the consumers.

In my life I have owned a small business, worked with a charity and like all of us I am a consumer. Plus, I did sell elevator advertising to finance my university expenses, starting in the university’s pubs.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. My experiences good and bad, will help me to understand what each stakeholder needs to benefit from FriendLilySHOP.com. I will describe each stakeholder’s pain points, goals and motivations from my perspective and experiences.

Let us start with charities.


I was with the Kidney Foundation of Canada (Hamilton board) in the mid 2000’s, and it was a privilege. I realized it is a social investment when you donate time or money to a charity.

My Mother passed away in 2018 and it was related to kidney disease, which she only developed in her 88th year, after I was with the Kidney Foundation. 

When she was going through dialysis, I saw firsthand the support she received. It is nice to know when you or your loved one needs help and support it will be there. That is why I want donations to be easy for any donor to contribute to a charity. 

An important take-away from my time with the Kidney Foundations was the number of resources (money /time) to plan any fundraising event. The administration of the Hamilton Chapter of the Kidney Foundation was skilled at planning.

As we know it takes money to make money and any event will cost money. 


But here is the thing.

A charity plans an event, maybe a silent auction one evening.

  • rent a hall $$$
  • collect donations$$
  • liquor permit$
  • staff it$$
  • cater food$$
  • mailer (emails)$

What can go wrong on that exact date?

  • Leafs (insert any popular team) battle in the 7th game of a championship
  • a freak snowstorm / windstorm cripples the city
  • work emergency or new COVID rules reduce attendance

Of course, all speculation, but that makes you think. Events out of our control can derail any fundraiser. Charities need multiple revenue streams to offset a black swan.

Now let us look at what we do know from studies and surveys and plan around those behaviours and realities to make the charities prosper without ANY $$$$ outlay.

Below are articles I looked at for fundraising trends.

Why we give.

  • compassion for those in need (89%)
  • personally believe in a cause and want to help (85%)
  • contribute to our communities (79%)
  • personally affected by an organization’s cause (61%)
  • religious obligations or beliefs (29%)
  • income tax credit (23%)


Crowdfunding stats for non-profits show that crowdfunding success rates largely depend on four things:

  • Social media sharing – the rate of success rises with every social media contact – 10 friends increase 9%, 100 friends increase success by 20%, etc. 
  • Campaign descriptions of 300 to 500 words
  • Regular updates for supporters – update every 5 days result in 3X more donations
  • Videos – campaigns with video appeals raise 150% more than those without


What does the charity / non-profit landscape look like in Canada? – as per National Survey of Nonprofit and Voluntary Organizations (Hall et al., 2004)

  • there are over 170,000 charitable and nonprofit organizations in Canada. 1
  • 85,000 of these are registered charities (recognized by the Canada Revenue Agency). 
  • Over 13 million people volunteer for charities and nonprofits.

     Most government funding goes to a handful of charities.  2018 Giving Report – authors – Canadahelps.org and Imagine Canada 

  • $177.2 billion in funding from the government goes to the charitable sector but most of it ($150.9 billion) goes to 1 percent of the sector made up of mainly health and education charities.

     Canadians give over $14 billion annually to charity. 2018 Giving Report – authors – Canadahelps.org and Imagine Canada 

  • Younger generations are not giving in the same way as previous generations their age, and the charitable sector is relying on a narrowing older population, 70 years and older. This group will age out of giving in the next ten years, meaning $4.3 billion will be in serious jeopardy of exiting the charitable system.

 Online donations are on the rise. 2018 Giving Report – authors –   Canadahelps.org and Imagine Canada 

  • Although overall donations have decreased by 0.5 percent from 2006 to 2015, online donations have steadily increased by 20.5 percent annually over the same period.

      After all these facts and figures here are my strategies

  • Canadians are charitable with their money & time, so they need to be made aware of initiatives in their own community
  • make it a no risk and a no expense process for a charity to receive a contribution
  • lights, camera, now create some donating action -develop videos or write-ups to introduce the potential contributors to a charity’s message 
  • people just want to help – give them an easy way to contribute to their charity of choice – overlap shopping and donating
  • most donations for charities are given in December, make contributions a 365 day / 24-hour event
  • use social media’s power to connect with potential contributors, including the important younger cohorts (University / College)
  • allow cash donations to be made with a link from FriendLilySHOP.com straight to a charity’s donor page
  • target smaller regional charities – something you can see, and touch is a thing!

Thanks for READING MY BLOG – Next time we look at the vendors or better yet, let us call them what they are Canada’s Entrepreneurs



PLEASE READ MY BLOG will discuss the genesis of FriendLilySHOP and what factors I consider as I develop it. Feedback is appreciated (email on site) and in fact it is required. We all work in a vacuum and ignoring other’s ideas would be a mistake.

I will use a lot of bullet points in the BLOG. Bullet points allow me to break down an explanation into simple parts, plus they mask my poor syntax skills.

When the idea of starting an e-site began I needed to draw inspiration and insight from my past.

My businesses career started when I was fifteen and began working at my father’s pharmacies. 

I witnessed the interaction between customers and staff in a pretty busy place over 15 years.

As the owner’s son I was coddled and protected from any drama or confrontations, or you would think, but that was not the truth. When you are exposed to working with a parent for 15 years you see it all. I worked with my father every Saturday, throughout summer breaks and filled in when needed there was no way my father or his staff could hide anything. My father and his staff were very open with me about business. Those were the best lessons.

What I saw and understood was that no business is perfect, and you have to face and correct problems as they occur, and always make changes to keep the experience fresh. In other words manage relationships of the customer, employee and supplier.

Those lessons from years of retail experience can be applied to developing an on-line store – my goal is to incorporate and be observant of those experiences

  • on-line or in person you need to have empathy for your customers, and understand them (personas)
  • listen to the employees, who are real-time data collectors 
  • you need to constantly keep the retail floor or website fresh
  • ask customers questions to make sure they are thoroughly served and find out if there were products, they would like you to carry 
  • be important to your suppliers – it helps for pricing, exclusive deals, and delivery timelines 
  • make sure your suppliers are important to you  – see previous
  • resolve issues quickly
  • use the “Hey Norm” effect – know your customer’s name and what they purchase – technology now enables helpful customizing
  • be real, transparent, acknowledge mistakes and include all the things as a consumer you would want – again – have empathy

I want this blog to be like my experience at the pharmacy, honest and educational. As the reader I know you are too busy to read platitudes of how this company is the best thing and it is always a blue sky day and event free.  

I will explain to you, not market at you. 

FriendLilySHOP.com is about the stories of the stakeholders, but it begins with FriendLilySHOP’s story.

I do not want this to be just a blah, blah, blog.

THE NEXT BLOGS will breakdown each of the stakeholder of the site – charities, vendors, advertisers and the consumer.